Spring: time for the great escape
From cocktail specials in Galway to surfing in Donegal, there's plenty on offer, says Lucinda O'Sullivan
After the extraordinary unseasonal weather we've 'enjoyed' this spring, there is a longing in all of our hearts for an escape – however brief.
Today is Sunday, so you have a few days to prepare for a May bank holiday escape. Maybe spring a surprise on your better half, and hit the road for the opposite end of the country.
If you are a rural dweller, why not come and 'do' Dublin? The Fitzwilliam Hotel on St Stephen's Green has a novel 'Double Date' overnight package for couples for the May bank holiday. As an added incentive "the person who makes the booking for the group will enjoy their stay-over on us".
The package is based on two double rooms for one night at €165pps, and includes evening dinner in the hotel's Citron restaurant, two mini treatments in Spirit Spa, one round of drinks at Inn on the Green bar, and free entry to Everleigh Garden with a bottle of Prosecco.
Across the Green, The Shelbourne Hotel has a May bank holiday 'Rediscover Dublin' package with B&B from €99 pps, with late check-out.
IN Killiney, Fitzpatrick's Castle Hotel is offering a 1BBD 'Bank Holiday Treat for Two' for €199 on Sunday, May 5, with complimentary chocolates.
At the Ritz-Carlton, Powerscourt, in Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, a 'Gordon Ramsay' 1BBD package at €195pps includes dinner in the eponymous restaurant.
The Druids Glen Resort at Newtownmountkennedy, Co Wicklow, caters perfectly for the whole family. Children can enjoy all kinds of activities from face painting, swimming,
There are interconnecting and spacious family rooms, child-focused buffets during the holidays, and 24-hour family room service –and children under 12 eat in Druids Brasserie until 7pm for free.
The 'Family Rooms Sleep and Eat' package (up to four children), includes a two-night break in two interconnecting rooms. The package includes a full Irish breakfast each morning and dinner on one evening in Druids Brasserie, at €250 per night.
IN THE pretty and historic town of Abbeyleix, Preston House Restaurant and Guesthouse has a 'Luxury Preston Experience' at €240 pps which offers you three nights for the May bank holiday, with free bottle of Prosecco. The package includes two dinners.
ANOTHER interesting and historic town is Birr, Co Offaly. Here for the May Bank Holiday only at Townsend Guest House, B&B for two people sharing is €69, including a free bottle of wine.
WHY not gather friends and family and rent a castle for the weekend? To quote Wordsworth, "a host of golden daffodils" awaits you at Bansha Castle in Tipperary. Three nights will cost €1,800.
WHITES of Wexford is participating in the Mexican Food Trail for Zorro Fest 2013 on Saturday, May 4, celebrating Irish Zorro, William Lamport, and all things Mexican. The Blackstairs Adventure Race takes place on Sunday, May 5. You can stay at Whites with 2BB1D from €169pps or 3BB1D from €229pps.
IN neighbouring Waterford you can enjoy a 2BB1D break at the Athenaeum House Hotel for €130 pps, with a glass of Prosecco.
THE Walter Raleigh Hotel at Youghal in East Cork is offering a three-night package from €160pps to include a double room with panoramic views of the Atlantic, full Irish breakfast daily, a bottle of wine, and an evening meal for two in the Atlantic Lounge.
AT the stunning five-star Castlemartyr Resort there are B&B packages available from €165pps for one night.
FOTA Island Resort is a cracking spot close to Cork city. From Saturday, May 5, to Monday, May 7, it is offering a 2BB1D package from €198 per night for two people; or a bank holiday Sunday Special of 1BB from €159 for two people, or from €237 to include a three- course meal for two.
CORK'S five-star Hayfield Manor Hotel has several offers, including an eye-catching 2BB1D from €229 pps.
OVER in Killarney at the historic Arbutus Hotel, Sean Buckley and his team know all about hospitality. Two nights B&B is from €225 for two people, including a guided tour on Sunday of Killarney's foothills and lakes.
ONE of my favourite places is the legendary Parknasilla Resort & Spa at Sneem. Here you can have 2BB and an a la carte dinner on one evening from €199pps. This includes complimentary access to the spa pool, thermal suite and outdoor hot tubs. Blissful.
Nearby at Golden's Cove, the Sneem Hotel has limited availability at €159 pps for 2BB1EM.
IN Kenmare at the five-star Sheen Falls Lodge, two people sharing can enjoy 2BB and two table d'hote dinners, one in the hotel's La Cascade restaurant and the second in The Restaurant Lounge, for €615 and you get a third night free B&B.
Down on the Ring of Kerry at Waterville's Butler Arms Hotel, for €199pps you can enjoy 2BB1D with an Atlantic sea view room and Skelligs chocolates, with a guided tour of the Skelligs Ring and Skelligs Chocolate Factory. Dinner is in its Fisherman's Restaurant, with resident harpist.
IN Dingle at Brian and Helen Heaton's fabulous Castlewood House – Tripadvisor Traveller's Choice Award winner for 2013 – rooms cost from €65pps including breakfast. Brian's parents, Cameron and Nuala, have the super Heaton's Guesthouse next door.
Limerick's historic Georgian Quarter is home to No 1 Pery Square. For €179pps you can have 2BB1D. You also get a €30 voucher each for the spa, plus unlimited access to the thermal suite.
The Dunraven Arms Hotel at Adare has a two-night Ballyhoura Walking Festival offer on Sunday, May 5 and Monday, May 6, which includes 2BB1D from €150pps. There will be a special menu on Sunday night and a healthy early breakfast on Monday morning. Packed lunch included.
The National Famine Commemoration 2013 is taking place in West Clare over the May bank holiday weekend. There is a variety of interesting events, all free. The Old Ground Hotel in Ennis has a 2BB1D package from €149pps.
IN Athlone, the Hodson Bay Hotel offers B&B from €65pps or 2BB1EM from €149pps. Great for lakeland walks, cycling and kayaking.
IN Galway's Latin Quarter, the boutique House Hotel boasts great cocktails. It has an offer on Friday night of 1BB and a cocktail for €69pps.
OUT in the heart of Connemara the Clifden Station House Hotel promises fabulous food, great shopping, a spa, pool, cinema, kids' club and more; 2BB1D is €149pps.
AT the terrific Delphi Mountain Resort you will be perfectly positioned for the Leenane Walking Festival over the weekend. Just €189pps gets you 2BB and a two-course dinner on one night.
THE stunning Ice House hotel at Ballina has a two-night 'Wine, Dine and Unwind' package at €250pps. You will be in a luxurious riverside room with views over the River Moy which you can absorb as you sip the glass of bubbles which will greet you on arrival. Dinner is included on one evening and you can unwind in the Thermal Suite.
UP TO Donegal and there is nowhere more magical than the majestic beach at Rossnowlagh. Here at the aptly named Sandhouse Hotel, Paul Diver makes everyone feel at home – even your dog. Here you can have 2BB1D from €199pps and an activity of choice: golf or a surfing lesson. Go on, give it a go!
Further north at Dunfanaghy, Arnold's Hotel & Dunfanaghy Stables offers 2BB and an hour of horse riding at €152pps.
Castle Leslie Estate at Glaslough in Co Monaghan is loaded with history and colour. On its 'Overnight Escape' package, you can stay in either The Castle or The Lodge; 1BB1D in Snaffles Restaurant is from €105pps in The Lodge, or €140pps in The Castle. It's another world.